It is an exciting time to be in our industry. We are in the final stretch of establishing the CMU Checkoff – a program created for producers, by producers, that will let us work together to win back market share, create new demand and position concrete block as the superior building product it is.
Some of you may have seen an email from a group of producers calling themselves the Alliance for Independent Masonry Supporters. This small group is proposing a voluntary checkoff, which as we know from our checkoff studies, do not provide long term opportunity that we all recognize we need to support our industry and future. We’ve always known that there might be a few producers in opposition, but we hoped in time they would see the value of the entire industry working together to advance masonry. And they would see the benefit to every producer to work together to compete against the industries that have been chipping away at our market share.
Frankly, given all the hard work that many of you and countless others have contributed towards establishing a successful checkoff for us and our future, it is disappointing, but we must move forward.
With the CMU Checkoff, we will be able to work together to accomplish things none of us could do on our own. National mandatory checkoffs work because everyone contributes equally and together, we fund long-term programs that benefit all producers. This is in part because mandatory checkoffs provide consistent level of funding year over year.
Unlike voluntary checkoffs, we’ve seen national mandatory programs work time and time again, including for some of our competitors. Since the inception of the softwood lumber checkoff, demand for their product has increased by 3.6 billion feet. A big chunk of that has been at the expense of concrete block. They invest $14 million a year to promote wood to our customers and beyond. We can’t win without a united approach. And that’s the challenge when it comes to a voluntary checkoff. As history has shown, we won’t be able to scale to the level that our competition is at with a voluntary checkoff. And we will not be able to take on the challenges and to capture the opportunities that are before us.
Here's the bottom line. With our checkoff we can win back lost markets, create new demand and develop new product and design innovations. Our checkoff will let each of us focus on promoting our own products while the checkoff works to shorten our sales cycle, promoting all the benefits of block. It will be like each of us is adding a product and design research team, a marketing and promotion team, a workforce development team and more.
There are good things ahead. I’m excited about the potential before you and I encourage each of you if you haven’t done so already, to take some time to look at the draft Order that has been published in the Federal Register. And be sure to share your support and your comments about a CMU checkoff.
CMU Checkoff Chair